Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

New Jersey's Senior Senator Speaks Out!

Jon Corzine was on Fox News a little while ago. Senator Hutchinson was also there, but she seemed disciplined and intelligent and anodyne. It was Senator Corzine's behavior that really stood out. They are mostly reacting to, among other things, the seizure of the North Korean missile shipment.

He says the missile shipment proves that North Korea is more dangerous than Iraq - a position that is at least arguable, although he does little to actually make the case.

Then he really starts to get strange. He seems sure that because by some measure not really explained North Korea is the "more dangerous" country, all military action against Iraq must stop until action against North Korea is completed (at least I think that was what he was saying).

But just what the heck does Senator Corzine want to do with or to North Korea now that he has discovered it is so dangerous? He wants action against Iraq to stop, I think. He opportunistically criticizes "American intelligence" for ill-defined reasons. But Senator Corzine offers no constructive suggestion whatsoever as to what, if anything, should or can be done about North Korea. Does he want the President to go to the United Nations and get a mandate to invade North Korea if the North Koreans don't get rid of their weapons of mass destruction programs and allow immediate inspections? Does he plan to introduce a resolution in the Senate to authorize the President to take action against North Korea? Does he think Japan or Russia would support such a move - or even not become hysterical? He doesn't say. Anything. Not a word.

Nor does he address even briefly how likely it is that the United Nations (or whatever else he means by the "international community") will authorize military action against North Korea. He does not mention whether he or any American intelligence service he knows of (he seems to claim a lot of knowledge about what the intelligence services are up to, at least when it comes to free form criticism of "American intelligence") has considered what China or Russia - each of which has veto power in the Security Council - would feel about that Council authorizing an essentially United States occupied North Korea next door. He therefore does not say whether he thinks the US should take unilateral action against the North Koreans over a Chinese or Russian veto - and, of course, he doesn't say what we should do if action against North Korea created a risk of war with China.

He does not address whether an essentially United States occupied North Korea would then create an obligation or pressure for unification of the Koreas - at least if that is what South Korea wanted (it is far from clear it would).

WEIRDLY, IN GENERAL, SENATOR CORZINE IS SO BUSY ATTEMPTING LITTLE POLITICAL SKIRMISH MANEAUVERS THAT HE DOESN'T SEEM TO HAVE A CLUE HOW CLOSE HE IS TO PROPOSING ANOTHER KOREAN WAR. Neither Ms. Van Susteran nor Senator Hutchinson raise the issue, either, perhaps because the whole North Korean thing is so obviously a cheap and insincere political dodge. I think that is a mistake on Ms. Van Susteran's part - but may be part of Senator Hutchinson discipline.

The thought passes through my mind that maybe Senator Corzine thinks we could offer the North Korean government some hot IPO stock, the Senator's favored means of currying favor with corporate bigshots when he was running Goldman Sachs. His whiskers seem strangely unkempt and if they are concealing something possibly unhygienic.

For a moment I make myself take Jon Corzine and what he is saying seriously, and from my effort he looms at me as a complete, bearded, almost unspeakably dangerous mess. My effort is exhausting. He seems confident that there is no chance anyone is or will be taking him seriously. From my just-ended effort, I now understand his confidence.

I'm find myself unsure which is more terrifying: that he is now Senior United States Senator from New Jersey or that he ran Goldman Sachs for years.

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